It was 1964. I was the only diver that Thornton Fractional North Township High School had. The other divers were sick or just didn’t show up for the meet, which was in Valparaiso. The pool there had a low ceiling and water that was too warm to be comfortable. I had never dived the one-meter board with a low ceiling. Several of my dives had me encounter that ceiling on my way up to execute, and the results caused me to lose the event, and that one loss caused our team to lose the meet.

The bus ride from Thornton to Valparaiso had been upbeat, but the bus ride back was conducted in total silence. Until the driver turned on the radio in order to relieve the grim silence of failure. The song that came on was this one. I had never heard it before. I sat in the window seat of the bus, my mind settling into a near enchanted state by the echoing melodies this song created.  Stranger on the Shore, the announcer stated when the song ended. I was, I felt, a stranger on the shore of my place in the life of the time. I’d never heard the lyrics to the song, or even knew that it was written with them as a part of it. I’d heard the song as an instrumental when it came through the car’s inadequate speaker system. The title of the song was all I needed to fill in the blanks about what it had to be about. I’d lost the k diving event, and because of that, we’d lost the whole swim meet. It was also my first and only loss as a one- and three-meter diver that I would ever experience. I took that music to heart and the tones beat back and forth within me to this very day…and night.

A bullet in Vietnam that hit my left hip took away any capability of diving when I came back home and got out of the hospital. I could never dive from a board again. But nothing, and no one, aside from death, can take the tones back that play through my mind with a grim smile, as I listen to Stranger on the Shore and the lyrics wend their way through the alleys and canyons of my willing consciousness.

The Sea of Love. Another piece of aged brilliance. “Come with me. Why these songs? Like right now, why these two songs? I illustrate them, and their brilliant lyrics because you might just need them…right now. The Sea of Love, is about life itself. The lyrics and melody capture you and take you to a place of warmth, in the past, in the present or maybe even the future. A place where you have been, are now or can go to get that warmth so missing in our current level of the social congregation. We are mostly all lonely, lost and alone. How do we get back to a sense of belonging and having externally applied respect and care? How do we form and reform those relationships that will take us to the Sea of Love?

You must first consider where you are and how you have come to be there, and then you must want something different and better. If you want to love people, all people, then you will succeed. They will feel it emanating from you, this outpouring of positive emotion, and you may indeed visit this Sea of love and come to sail upon those warm wonderful waters for all time. Sometimes the brilliance of distant and unknown writers can reach us…the merit of the work so extraordinary and the exorbitant genius so evident that its as if the writing simply had to be allowed to burst outward.

These writers, songwriters, lyricists, and musicians of all kinds try so hard to have their words accepted and published, but the unlikely nature of the viciously competitive business blocks most of that. The public is left with mere shards of what works somehow make it past the censors, judges and agents. Family members and the ‘good old boys’ make it nearly impossible for great work to reach us…and so many of us need to be reached so badly. We are all strangers on a lonely shore with the sea of love lapping gently at our bare feet.

Go on YouTube and listen to the works and be buoyed up just a bit…to get through the next part and give our attention to thanking God for what has come to us before and what He may allow us to have as we assault the future.   Take out your Bible, if you are a Christian, and read about a Stranger on the Shore who came to offer everyone on the planet, alive then and for all those to come, a place out upon the Sea of Love. The astounding and positively amazing thing is that all you have to do about getting a seat on that boat is to show up.

I’ll be there. It’d be wonderful to see you there too.

~~James Strauss

Featured Image by Greg Olsen


Sign up for Updates